The Detroit Police Department is devising a five-point plan to clamp down on large crowds this summer, with interim Police Chief James White at the helm of the effort. At the top of the list is increasing police presence citywide. Mayor Mike Duggan has approved 4,000 hours of overtime pay to patrol areas like Greektown and the Riverfront, along with other destinations that draw big gatherings.
In addition to increased police presence, the plan also includes more stringent noise enforcement, heavier policing on drag racing, engaging community members, and parking lot and code enforcement.
“I’m the chief, and you know my problems are not interim problems,” said White, who was appointed to his post by Mayor Mike Duggan at the beginning of June. “They are problems that I need to address to enforce the laws of this city.”
Clamping Down on Drag Racing, Gun Violence
Officers have been given 2,000 overtime hours to patrol drag racing and drifting. DPD seized nearly 40 vehicles this year as speeding vehicles take to the “Motor City,” sometimes posting their activities online. The city’s Real Time Crime Center has about 150 staff monitoring social media for illegal street races and motorists who do burnouts in intersections, according to White.
“We couldn’t go to West Bloomfield, and you and I drag race up and down a private street, putting the residents at risk. Putting the kids at risk. I don’t accept that,” said White.
White is leading the department at a time where gun violence is on the rise in Detroit. Police have seized hundreds of illegal guns this year, and homicides and non-fatal shootings are up.
“There’s an uptick around the country,” said White. “We are working with the plan right now. We’re building our crime strategy, and we’re deploying our resources to try to drive down that crime and identify those violent predators of our community.”
“As the state has opened up after COVID, there is a perception that you can come into the city, and these laws won’t be enforced.” — Mayor Mike Duggan
As pandemic restrictions lift throughout Michigan, officials in Detroit are bracing for more commercial and recreational activity and the crime that may follow.
“We don’t have time for a learning curve or a transition period. We’ve got to have leadership that can act immediately,” said Duggan. “As the state has opened up after COVID, there is a perception that you can come into the city, and these laws won’t be enforced.”
Duggan points to recent fights in Greektown and drag racers that traveled to Detroit from Kalamazoo as the kind of activity the city is working to stop.
“We don’t want to arrest anybody. We’re here to say we want everybody in this city to be able to enjoy every part of the city,” Duggan added.
Relying on Community Support
DPD is enforcing noise ordinances, curfew orders and parking lot violations as well. The department is ticketing parking lot owners to stop tailgating activities. Businesses and vehicles could be ticketed for playing music after 10 p.m. when younger residents are expected to be off the street.
“Anybody that’s 17 and under, where the curfew applies to them, they should not be on the street late hours at night,” said Assistant Police Chief David LeValley. “Parents have the responsibility to make sure that they know where their children are, so we will also be enforcing parental responsibility.”
Police are expecting concerned citizens to help in their efforts to ease partying in neighborhoods and other illegal activities.
“We are here to help to make the city safe from downtown to Grosse Pointe to Eight Mile to Telegraph,” said Arthur Edge of Detroit 300. “Our purpose is to ensure the quality of life for the citizens of the city of Detroit.”
“After the historic increase in gun violence throughout our city, we know that it will take a unique and vigorous, huge partnership with the community in order to build a safer Detroit, without imprisoning people.” — Alia Harvey-Quinn
FORCE Detroit, another community group, is holding a series of “peace walks” to bolster neighborhood presence. Director Alia Harvey-Quinn is leading a series of Friday night marches in areas like Joy Road near Rouge Park, Livernois and 6 Mile, Gratiot and 7 Mile, and Campus Martius throughout the summer.
“After the historic increase in gun violence throughout our city, we know that it will take a unique and vigorous, huge partnership with the community in order to build a safer Detroit, without imprisoning people, without locking people up, without fining people,” she said.